California’s Cannabis Supply Chain Temporarily Uprooted By PG&E Power Outages

California’s latest wave of wildfires is finally under control after weeks of heroic fighting from fire departments across the country in both SoCal and Sonoma County. But as families begin to return to their homes and local businesses reopen, preemptive power outages implemented up and down the state have caused their own mayhem – especially for the state’s harvest-ready cannabis industry.

According to a new report from the Eureka Times-Standard, dispensaries and distributors throughout Northern California’s famed Emerald Triangle lost out on thousands of dollars of potential revenue, could not service patients and customers, and in extreme cases, lost entire indoor crops thanks to lack of temperature control, air circulation or precise lighting.

“The power outage interrupted the whole supply chain,” Jeff Poel, owner and president of Eureka dispensary EcoCann, told the Times-Standard. “Those impacts are going to be going on for a long time.”

And while many growers and producers were able to circumvent the week-plus of PG&E outages with generators or off-grid solar power, many cannabis industry employees were unable to travel to work or leave loved ones during the power interruptions. For cannabis companies that supply dispensaries on both halves of the Golden State, highway closures and power outages made wholesale deliveries nearly impossible. 

“Many of them were scrambling to keep their operations running,” Poel said. “They had the same problems as we did, maybe worse, and got behind on deliveries. Some of them only deliver once a month, so when they don’t make that delivery, we’re out of that product.”

PG&E cut power to huge swaths of the state multiple times throughout October, leaving most of rural Northern California in the dark for much of last week. The ubiquitous power company is years behind on necessary structural updates and disrupts service during strong winds and particularly heavy fire conditions. The company has said that power shut-off will continue through fire season for at least another ten years. As it just so happens, California’s fire season flares up at the exact same time as California’s prolific outdoor cannabis harvest season.

“This just adds another layer of complexity to an already fairly complicated time of year,” Terra Carver, executive director of the Humboldt County Grower’s Alliance, told the Times-Standard. “The good news is though that our membership in Humboldt are good at being flexible and nimble.”

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